Car parks vs infill (the debate continues)

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Samantha Reece attended the recent Committee for Perth luncheon where Dr Julian Bolleter of Australian Urban Design Research Centre (AUDRC) tested the idea of finding room for density.

Dr Bolleter stated that from 2001 – 2010 Perth had seen the clearance of 351 hectares of land to make way for greenfields development, something that many will argue is simply not sustainable.

But Dr Bolleter provided some other alternatives for accommodating our growing population, which really were quite eye opening.

As he stated, 20% of the Perth suburban core are backyards which equates to 132sqm/person.  In the UK this figure is 75sqm/person.  If the Perth suburban core was to reduce our backyards to 75sqm/person we could accommodate 115,000 new infill homes.

Dr Bolleter then spoke about the fact that 12% of the Perth suburban core is asphalt, which represents 78sqm/person.  These represent car parks and the like.  In Manhattan this ratio is 9sqm/person.  If Perth was just to reduce this ratio to 64sqm/person than this could accommodate 203,000 new infill dwellings.

Freeway reserves represent 20sqm/person and if we could reduce this to 16sqm/person this would accommodate 50,000 new dwellings.  And as Dr Bolleter stated, if we made these light industrial areas, this could generate 95,000 new jobs and allow for the development of affordable housing where people can work and live in the one precinct.

And finally Dr Bolleter examined the golf courses.  At present there is 14sqm/person of golf courses in the core suburban area but when you look at the Mt Lawley golf course, its membership base of 1000 represents 900sqm/member.  With golf club memberships declining, and a golf course in the USA shutting its doors every 48 hours, this is certainly something that could be considered for density.

As Dr Bolleter stated, if we could reduce the golf course ration to 7sqm/person this alone would accommodate another 86,000 infill dwellings.

At the end of the day, it is obvious that there are opportunities to accommodate more houses and people in our city, we just need to be prepared to think outside the box and we were very grateful for Dr Bolleter’s insights and the chance to change our paradigm of thought!

Whilst some of Dr Bolleter’s suggestions would impact on Perth’s declining green space and tree coverage, an already acknowledged issue, rethinking our use of space could open up residential and employment opportunities … and create the demand needed for improved public transport – something that is also essential to Perth’s growth.

What do you think about this concept?

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